Tag Archives: nostalgia

“At the Shore”

the mist of the Mediterranean Sea on my face
surrounds me with my loved ones’ embrace
a childhood spent carefree
early youth and young adulthood?
what a bliss!
all my life stages there
are brightly lit in my memory
with nothing left for me to desire
for fulfilled am i to an ultimate degree

on this day, i keep looking back
at each of those moments, i am taken aback
for the beauties i breathe in vividly prevail
and eagerly, i forge ahead to inhale

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 2.10.2020


Filed under Poetry, Reflections


Bir cezve
Biraz kahve ve su
Bir kare çikolata
Şeker yerine

Birkaç yudum akabinde
Eser kalmaz o tattan

Anılar oysa ki öyle mi . . .
Her bir fincanda yüzlercesi

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 16 Ağustos, 2019



[Free online image]


One cezve*
A bit of coffee and water
One piece of chocolate
A sugar substitute

The taste? Gone!
After a few sips

As for the memories . . .
Hundreds, in one single cup

English translation: (c) hülya n. yılmaz, October 5, 2019

*Turkish coffee pot


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

“on a Mulberry tree”

as carefree as a bumble bee
i climb up the branches like one of the boys
we don’t have any of this in the city, you see
here, in Sinop, i know that i can be me, just me!

my new-found friends show me how to collect
those delicious looking dark red edibles
it is fun! So much fun! But i still hesitate
because i can’t forget how a tiny little bee
had given me a whale-size lump on my cheek
back home in Ankara, you see
from inside a paper bag, wrapped sneakily
disguised as seeded grapes,
as dark red as can be
the most favorite fruit of my sweet Baba
i learned how to put the Mulberries together
i learned all that in a short time and just fine
but i want to, no i just have to
make absolutely sure
that these cloth bags know how to protect . . .

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 8.8.2019


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

“Mother Tongue”

Mother tongue . . .
Last night, I remembered Mom.

Not the first time. Oh no!
She lives in me, you see.
She has never left.
Nor has my Dad, my father-like older uncle,
My younger uncle,
Or my sister-like cousin,
All hearts of gold,
Unchipped, raw.

Last night welcomed me
In my mother tongue
To a setting that felt like home . . .
It had been too long of a while
When I last visited her . . .

A surprise guest made her entrance.
Homesickness, she said, is my name.
I knew her too well from decades ago.
She and I hit it off right from the first go.
We reminisced. She too had missed me.
Where was I all these years, she wanted to know.
Life, I replied, holding back my bittersweet tears.
What brought you to me today, she asked.

Mother tongue . . .

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 3.2.2019


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

…the dance of my life…

POSTED.image for ölümü düşünüyorum

[Photo Courtesy: My daughter. My grandson is over a year old now. Out of my respect for his parents’ private sphere, any of his photos I post are either old or don’t show him in full.]






the dance of my life


the story used to form fast on the tip of my parents’ tongues

extended family ever so ready to join in the retelling

a natural dancer with a spry passion apparently i was

with or imagined music – it would not matter

full attention of whoever did routinely gather

ample laughter a loving audience were always alive

not even a single beat without me had any chance to thrive


in later years when that early joy came back from the dead once or twice

i submitted to the music’s magic however in full disguise

both joys then ceased to be for as long as i can remember

becoming an adult was no easy feat after all…

birthdays rushed one after another at their racing speed


i am now graced with a delightful grand baby

he, too, may dance on his own one day…maybe

if not, the loss will be great and only mine

for he once poured into me a dance of the divine


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…a grandmother’s love…

IMG_2353 [Photo: Own picture of own backyard]


the first snow of the new year was tap-dancing

before my once-a-baby house guest was ready to rise

he and i spent the long night in and around his stroller

then at dawn he fell deeply asleep on my good shoulder

his head slided down in slow motion on my fast aged chest

in selfish longing i missed him throughout his sweet slumber

the drifting away of the riffs, cracks, aches from my body and soul


i then kept silent in peace awaited his awake moments

inhaled once again his immediate eager smile upon waking up

his darling laughter deep inside his mommy’s bluest blue eyes

his non-stop kissable huggable tummy arms fingers and feet

his here there and everywhere twisting curls on his golden head…



we locked our eyes in each other’s once again

another whole-face smile grew and grew on his baby-bird-mouth

this time wide open though away from me ready only to drink her mommy love


© hülya n. yılmaz – December 19, 2014












Filed under Poetry

Özdemir Asaf and Yıldız Moran Arun

For the month of November – my most favorite autumn time, I will make a virtual visit with an artist or a writer (or both, as is the case today) of my country of birth.  Why Turkey?  Why now?  Well, I have reached and fast passing the autumn of my life and have begun to feel an increasing nostalgia toward the world corner where I first joined the living.  November is marked for us in the U.S. as the month of thanksgiving.  It is my way of giving thanks to my birthing place in this manner.  And I just would love it, if you were to join me on that travel for a little longer…on Wednesdays…and only for a month…



The video above vocalizes a reading of “Yalnızlık Paylaşılmaz,” one of the many poems on loneliness by Turkey’s widely reputed poet, Özdemir Asaf – Halit Özdemir Arun, with his real name (1923-1981):

Yalnızlık, yaşamda bir an,

Hep yeniden başlayan…

Dışından anlaşılmaz.


Ya da kocaman bir yalan,

Kovdukça kovalayan…



Bir düşünde, beni sana ayıran

Yalnızlık paylaşılmaz

Paylaşılsa yanlızlık olmaz.

Loneliness, an instant in life,

Always occurring anew…

An enigma from the outside.


Or, a colossal deceit,

One that chases the more it is chased…

Cannot be shared.


Saving me for you in one of your dreams

Loneliness cannot be shared

If it could, it would not transpire.

(My own translation, as of 10.29.2013)

Özdemir Asaf – with his best-known name, is considered a prominent landmark when contemporary Turkish literature is considered, not only for his poetic work in his native tongue but also for his translations from French poets and writers in journals and anthologies since 1940.

Yıldız Moran Arun (1932-1995), the poet’s wife was Turkey’s first professionally trained female photographer.  An article in Kadınlar Gökkuşağı claims that – while on one single day, 25 of her photographs were purchased in Cambridge; Moran’s photographic art was overlooked in her country of birth, Turkey, despite its popular appeal.  Her accounts on how she met her husband count as some of the most critical representations of Özdemir Asaf in his true light.

The poem below constitutes one of the poet’s perhaps most passionate verses on loneliness, with my English translation following immediately:

Sen herşeyi süpürebilirsin; sonbaharı süpüremezsin
yalnızsa sürekli bir sonbaharı süpürür hep..


Yanar sobasında yalnız’ın üşüyen bakışları.
Lambasında karınlığa dönük bir ışık titrer sönük-sönük.
Penceresi dışına kapanmıştır kapısı içine örtük.

Yalnız bin yıl yaşar kendini bir an’da.

Yalnız’ın nesi var nesi yoksa tümü birdenbire’dir.

Yalnız bir ordudur kendi çölünde..
Sonsuz savaşlarında hep yener kendi ordusunu.

Yalnız’ın sakladığı bir şey vardır;
Boyuna yerini değiştirir boyuna onu arar… Biri bulsa diye.

Yalnız hem bilgesi hem delisidir kendi dünyasının.
Ayrıca; hem efendisi hem kölesidir kendisinin.
Tadını çıkaramaz görece’siz dünyasında hiçbirisinin.

Yalnız sürekli dinleyendir söylenmemiş bir sözü.

Sözünde durması yalnız’ın yalancılığıdır kendisine..
Hep yüzüne vurur utancı. O yüzden gözlerini kaçırır gözlerinden.

Yalnız’ın odasında ikinci bir yalnızlıktır ayna.

Yalnız hep uyanır ikinci uykusuna.

Yalnız kendi ben’inin sen’idir.

Bir sözde saklanmış bir yalanı bir gözde okuduğundan
bakmaz kendi gözlerine bile.

Her susadığında o kendi çölündedir.

Kendi öyküsünü ne anlatabilen ne de dinleyebilen.
Kendi türküsünü ne yazabilen ne söyleyebilen.

Bir zamanlar güldüğünü anımsar da…
Yoğurur hüzün’ün çamurunu avuçlarında.

Yalnız aranan tek görgü tanığıdır
yargılanmasında kendi davasının..
Her duruşması ertelenir kavgasının.

Yalnız hem kaptanı hem de tek
yolcusudur batmakta olan gemisinin..
Onun için ne sonuncu ayrılabilir gemisinden ne de ilkin.

Yalnız’ın adı okunduğunda okulda ya da yaşamda..
Kimse “burda” deyemez.. Ama yok da..

Uykunun duvarında başladı..
Önceleri bir toz gölgesi sanki; sonra bir yumak yün gibi.
Ama şimdi iyice görüyor örümceğin ağını gün gibi.

Yalnız duymuş olduğunun sağırı görmüş olduğunun körüdür..
Ölür ölür öldürür.. Öldürür öldürür ölür.
Duyduklarını unutur duyacaklarını düşünür.

Yalnız’ın adına hiç kimse konuşamaz..
O kendi kendisinin sanığıdır.

Yalnız önceden sezer sonra olacakları..
Paylaşacak biri vardır; anlatır anlatır ona olanları olmayacakları.

Her leke kendisiyle çıkar.

You can sweep everything; but not the autumn

lonely*, however, sweeps the fall all the time…

You cannot imagine.


The freezing looks of lonely, inside its burning stove.

A dim light shivers toward the darkness in its lamp.

Its window is shut to the outside; its door, closed to its inside.


In an instant, lonely lives itself a thousand years.

Whatever lonely owns, they all amount to all at once.

Lonely is an army in its own desert…

Always defeats its own army in eternal wars.

There is something lonely hides incessantly;

It changes its location, quests for it incessantly…For someone to find it.


Lonely is both the wise and the mad of its own world.

Moreover; the master and the slave of itself.

Can’t savour any of them in its futile world


Lonely constantly listens to an unspoken word.

Keeping its promise is its deception of itself…

Its disgrace always tells it off.  It therefore avoids its eyes from its own.


In lonely’s room, the mirror is a second loneliness.


Lonely always wakes up to its second sleep.

Lonely is the you of its own I.

For it once read a lie in an eye hiding in a word

it won’t even look in to its own eyes.

When it thirsts, it is in its own desert.

Can neither tell its own story nor can it listen to it.

Can neither write its own song nor can it sing it.


Though it will remember its once upon a smile…

It will knead the sorrow’s mire in its palms.

Lonely is the only witness searched for

in the trial of its own case…

Each hearing of its quarrel, postponed.


Lonely is the captain as well the sole

passenger of its own sinking ship…

It thus can neither leave it last or first.

When its name is called in school or in life…

No one can say “here”…But neither “away”…

It began on the verge of sleep…

As if a dust shadow, first; then, a ball of yarn.

But now, it clearly sees the spider web as clearly as day.

Lonely is deaf to what it had heard; blind to what it had seen…

It dies and dies then kills…it kills and kills then dies.

Forgets what it hears; thinks of what it will hear.

No one can speak on lonely’s behalf…

It is its own accused.


Lonely foresees what is yet to happen…

It has someone to share it with; tells and tells all that happened all that won’t take place.

Every defect removes itself with itself.

 (My translation as of 10.29.2013. *Özdemir Asaf transforms the adjective “lonely” in to a noun in Turkish.  I have honored the grammatical freedom he takes in this poem.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I hope you enjoyed this autumn Wednesday with me during my virtual visit to an artist and a writer of Turkey.  I very much look forward to another November Wednesday but first, to Sunday when we will meet here again.  May you have a wonderful of everything in the meantime.

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Filed under Reflections

“our ties to home”

The video below shows Elzara Batalova , of Crimean Tatar background, singing “Ey Güzel Qırım” (“Oh, You Beautiful Crimea”), a ballad in one of the many Turkic languages :

Hers is a song of nostalgia, of the passionate longing for home, as the following refrain – one of several – articulates:

I haven’t lived in this place

Haven’t been able to realize my old age

Have been yearning for home

Oh, you beautiful Crimea

I don’t know how many of you have been born outside the United States, neither do I have any insight into whether you miss your birthplace – no matter where it is.  As some or maybe all of you already know (About), I was born and raised in Turkey and lived there until the age of twenty-four.  Although, my move to North America is not about a migrant’s story, an opinion page in New York Times on immigrants and the overall global trend to leave home recently got my attention.  Unlike some other articles I had encountered over the thirty-six years I lived and worked in the States, the treatment of this issue by Dr. Susan J. Matt , a professor of history at Weber State University – and the author of Homesickness: An American History , is psychology-based.  The facts, figures and statistics, I will leave behind.  Should the topic appeal to your interest, you can easily locate the source (in my blog roll).

Based on her “nearly a decade’s research” on the subject, Prof. Matt first informs us in “The New Globalist Is Homesick” as follows: “The global desire to leave home arises from poverty and necessity, but it also grows out of a conviction that such mobility is possible.”  She then adds that “it also has high psychological costs” and that “many people who leave home in search of better prospects end up feeling displaced and depressed.”  Foremost important to me on a personal level is what she states next: “Few speak openly of the substantial pain of leaving home.”  We learn from her article how in the 19th century “[s]tories of the devastating effects of homesickness were common [… (e.g.] ‘Victim of Nostalgia: A Priest Dies Craving for a Sight of his Motherland.”)  What the article highlights next is, to me, a first-time fact:    “Today, explicit discussions of homesickness are rare, for the emotion is typically regarded as an embarrassing impediment to individual progress and prosperity.  This silence makes mobility appear deceptively easy.”

Here, I invite us to pause briefly in order to get into my head, approximately three decades ago: At a time, when I was craving to be back home.  My mother was the main reason for my longing, along with my youth love I had left behind.  With the exception of my letters to her and a few jotted notes, I, too, had kept my silence about the deeply rooted ache I used to feel. With my mother’s death, my letters also vanished. As for those scattered notes, I may eventually find them during another move, whenever that may happen.  Imagine now, if you please, my conditions to leave my home country as opposed to those Matt analysed: There was no necessity for me to leave my home country.  I left to pursuit my passion to further my studies.  Poverty was not an issue, either.  Still, during my first years here, I experienced feelings of immense loss.

“Technology also seduces us into thinking that migration is painless [,]” writes Matt and argues: If today’s ways of rapid communication “could truly vanquish homesickness and make us citizens of the world, Skype, Facebook, cellphones and e-mail would have cured a pain that has been around since ‘The Odyssey’.”  She also announces: “Homesickness continued to plague many who migrated.”  Her argument finds support in her own research of the Archives of General Psychiatry, regarding, for instance, the “rates of depression and anxiety” among “Mexican immigrants in the United States” being “40 percent higher than nonmigrant relatives remaining in Mexico.  A wealth of studies have documented that other newcomers to America also suffer from high rates of depression and ‘acculturative stress’.”  Matt ends her findings by stressing how limited “the cosmopolitan philosophy” is: “The idea that we can and should feel at home anyplace on the globe is based on a worldview that celebrates the solitary, mobile individual and envisions men and women as easily separated from family, from home and from the past. But this vision doesn’t square with our emotions, for our ties to home, although often underestimated, are strong and enduring.”

On a personal level, I admit to a realization at this stage in my life how strong and enduring my ties to home have, in fact, been.  When I say home, it is not even my birthplace I speak of.  It is, rather, that of my mother and of seven generations on her family side. When the name alone comes up – Sinop, the small harbor town that housed Diogenes, I face the oddest phenomenon of my entire life so far: A primal urge to be there.  Since I can’t, I have scenario-rich dreams about it; I composed one, to me one of my most illustrious and longest but also most meaningful poems for it; I lived the most exhilarating three-and-a-half months of my life in it; I mourned and continue to mourn the loss of my mother’s inheritance from it.  I have even gone to such extent to add to my living will for my ashes to be spread to its sea.

I believe to no longer underestimate my ties to home – the way I had been for long , neither do I undermine the fact how strong and enduring that connection can be.  As if our umbilical cord is still attached not only to our mothers but to our birthplaces at large as well.

I now end here with the hope that you will come back, perhaps even with your own story of leaving home, or, just because.  Before I do, however, I want to give you “Sinop Aşkı” (“Love of/for Sinop”), a short video (4:37) with still  images of the town, accompanied by modern Turkish Folk music.  The second video is a longer and live introductory piece in English (25:16).  We have started with a music piece.  Why not end on one.

I very much look forward to your next visit.



Filed under Reflections

NaPoWriMo Challenge: Day 25


nostalgic for elation


bursting balloons wrapped in a rainbow

splashed by the waves of my daily walks

arms extended, my lair, prancing along

my shadow, secured away, awaiting a return

in and out of the Town Square, stores and cafes

still in high heels, my frolicking spirit

all senses, honed by the keenest of eyes

with a soaring want for a final reunion

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NaPoWriMo Challenge: Day 3

to class

thrice a week

the same campus building on the right


every day


the same young couple

the same corner

embraced in a hug of love

a goodbye

temporary separation


can’t help but look

though in haste

giving out a faint smile

in fear of “an intruder!” shout

a tender moment of privacy, after all


my head turns away

against the wish of the heart


the smile

grows inside



a welcome vision


first love

forever lost




Filed under Poetry, Reflections